Could it be that the clown will end up having the last laugh? Jets head coach Rex Ryan is treated like some kind of cartoon character in New England, and perhaps in several other parts of the country, too.
But if he’s not laughing now, he’s at least smiling, with his Jets bound for the AFC title game. And shouldn’t his candor and bravado be treated as refreshing instead of a punch line? It may have all started when he stepped up to the microphone early in his coaching tenure and said he
wasn’t intimidated by Bill Belichick, nor did he “come here to kiss Bill Belichick’s rings.” Ooh, that was, well, it was ... I don’t know.
What was it? It was nothing — except stating the obvious. Find me a coach in the NFL who is intimidated by Belichick, and I’ll show you a guy who doesn’t belong in the National Football League.
Ryan didn’t say anything negative about Belichick. It wasn’t a shot. It was a coach saying exactly what a coach should say, and feeling exactly like a winner should feel. But it generated a little storm around here, and that storm ended in laughter. Who does the corpulent, obnoxious guy down I-95 think he is, anyway? That comment suggesting he didn’t want to bow down at the feet of any other coach sure was bulletin board material, wasn’t it? Just wait until the Patriots stick his foot right in his mouth and shut him up.
Oh, wait. The Jets won that first game in the Meadowlands. Ryan didn’t have to shut up. And he didn’t. His players backed him up just like he’s been backing them up ever since he took over.
But he was mocked when he didn’t realize his team was still in playoff contention, he was ridiculed when he said his team should be favored to win the Super Bowl, and he was chided when he passed out schedules to his players right up to and including the Canyon of Heroes victory parade.
What a buffoon! Or maybe he’s a master motivator. There’s more credibility to the second theory, because his team is still playing. Ryan has won two road playoff games in his rookie season, with a rookie quarterback.
Nobody’s saying he’s a better coach than Belichick. Not even Ryan says that — but he’s proving he’s a pretty good coach in his own right. He’s the kind of coach who shouldn’t be intimidated by another, and should be allowed to say so. And he’s the kind of coach a lot of teams would love to have.
– Bob Halloran is an anchor, reporter and author. Follow him on Twitter @bobhalloran63.
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